Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why Music??? part 5 Music and The Spiritual Realm

Thanks for visiting topics and conversations. Here I want to address music therapy issues and concepts as they relate to education, health and wellness.

This is part five of my blog posts where I describe music therapy interactions I've had that are indicative of why music is so meaningful, enriching and sometimes life changing!

This music therapy session happened at Toledo Children's Hospital where I was called in on a sad case involving an 18yr old young man who, with his whole family this past December, contracted the flu. His family recovered fine but his conditioned deteriorated into a rare condition that rendered him unable to walk, talk, eat or breath on his own. Myself (music therapy), speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy are all part of the treatment team including the rehabilitation doctor.

In a case like this my music therapy role includes neurological stimulation, anticipation and differentiation using familiar songs as cues and prompts, and to use music for sleep and to stimulate hopefulness. This session was the first meeting with the young man and his family. It was reported to me that today he was struggling with a fever among other uncomfortable challenges. Therefore, I decided it would be best to simply introduce myself to the patient and family and provide live music, consisting of songs and artists that mom had told me her son enjoyed, i.e., mostly classic pop/rock music.The idea for today was to have him experience live music, simply for him to enjoy.

Today the boy's grandmother was with him as I visited. I played many songs of which the patient relaxed nicely. The live music turned out to be a nice, positive diversion from the fans (to keep him cool) and breathing apparatus in the room. After many songs I decided to play one more song for this session, a song I learned earlier this winter. The song, Can't Take My Eyes Off of You,” originally done by Frankie Valli, is a song I hadn't played in months. When I finished the song, the grandmother who was at the bedside said to me... “why did you play that song?” Internally I was very startled, thinking I hope I did not upset her for some reason. I answered her question by saying... “I don't know.” She went on to say that “earlier today I was here and said (to her grandson) “I can't take my eyes off of you...” And then thought... “I think that is a lyric of a song...” We both went “wow!!”

This experience reminds me that a few times a year, as I'm working with hospice patients and families, I'll be ready to play a song, then just before I start the song something tells me to play another song. After, the patient will say something like “that's my favorite song (without them telling me that beforehand)” or “I was just singing that this morning...”

My take on this has always been “from time to time an angel taps me on the shoulder to tell me precisely what to play for a good reason.” And this might be a case of “you'd have to be there...” but when it happens it is very noticeable and special.

So, "Why music??"... To experience (what some might call) the “spiritual realm.” I feel when any of us engage in live music, or even our very favorite, special recorded music, emotions are triggered that are directly connected to our spiritual self. Not always, but when the music, time and emotions are all in a desired place music, on various levels, can affect us spiritually. In the case described above it wasn't so much that the song affected the grandmother's spirit after it was played, it was more a case of “spirit” affecting WHAT I played. Either way, when music and it's positive intention is involved “spiritual” things can happen, similar to how prayer can affect people and situations.

In upcoming posts I will continue with other music therapy/health and wellness related blog posts.
My prescription this week??? Meditate or pray about music, i.e., “for how I'm feeling right now, what music should I choose to play or listen to.” And again, enjoy!!!!

I want to let everyone know that my new site:, still very new, is in the process of producing more offerings. Right now there are three offerings, i.e., two music albums available, David's Basics in Education and Lyrical Imagery and one educational lecture titled The Purposeful Use of Music From Pregnancy Through Toddlerhood (including Labor and Delivery). The second album, Lyrical Imagery, and the childbirth lecture are a free download for a limited time.
As a reminder the main thrust of the music therapy/childbirth lecture is to support moms (and dads) as they put together their own music listening playlists or CDs to support rhythmic breathing, act as a positive diversion from pain and stress, etc., to be used during labor and delivery.
Also, I'm looking forward to recording my second music album this spring. This is music for child development, autism and special needs. Remember, one song, “High 5,” from David's Basics in Education (music album #1) is still a free download for a limited time.
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